The Fusion youth group is the brainchild of Karen McGuire and Craig Binns and has already won praise from their customers.
The group, which is aimed at ‘high functioning autistics’ and those with Asperger’s Syndrome, opened in December but had its launch night earlier this month.
Founder Karen McGuire, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, said it was designed to give children with autism or Asperger’s the chance to socialise in a relaxed and welcoming environment.
She said: “For many children on the spectrum, they don’t often get the chance to go out and meet other people in a social setting and when they do, they often feel self conscious, because they are aware that people act differently around them. When they come here, they can just be who they are.”
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The group organises all kinds of social activities, including movie nights, table-top football, computer games, theatre productions and in the summer outdoor games like rounders and there are even plans to go camping.”
Parent Karen Baxendale, whsose son attends the group, said: “I am a parent of a young adult with Asperger’s who has attended Fusion almost every week from opening. Fusion has provided him with a safe, friendly and fun place to go. He has gained friends he can relate to. These friends he also meets outside the evenings. His confidence has grown massively and he is much happier. As a parent fusion has helped me too. Knowing my son is with friends and is happy to go to the group every week is uch a relief. It gives me a break also when things are difficult. Karen and Craig have created an amazing group and they are such a support to both the fusion members and their parents and carers.”
Karen’s partner Craig Binns added: “For some of the people who come here - there is no upper age limit - it’s the only time they get to socialise. We run two centres, one in South Kirby, which has over 30 members and this one, which has just started, but we had six new members at our last meeting. We’ve had really good feedback already from parents and the people who come.”
Another parent, Joanne Lockett, whose son has Asperger’s said: “My son joined Fusion when it opened in South Kirkby in 2014. Fusion is a fantastic club for teenagers and young adults on the spectrum, the moment my son joined he felt accepted and he could be himself, he looks forward to going each week. Karen and Craig who run the club are an inspiration, with Karen also being on the spectrum she understands how the kids feel and they look to her for advice and support. Last week we were thrilled to be part of the grand opening of Fusion in Wakefield, so now kids from this area can also have the opportunity to join this fantastic group. I know Karen’s ambition is to open Fusions all over the Uk and I am sure with the determination and drive she has that she will achieve this.”
The centre was officially opened by the Mayor of Wakefield Councillor June Cliff MBE.
The new group meets every Tuesday from 5.30pm-8.30pm at the Portobello Community Centre, Portobello Road, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF2 7JJ.
The South Kirby group is based at SESKU Academy, Burntwood Community Centre (prev. Burntwood School)
Church Mount, South Kirkby, West Yorkshire, WF9 3QS and meets on Fridays from 7pm-9pm.
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